An Effort As Empty As The Stadium

Railroaded By The Ravens As The Texans Are Found Wanting In Consecutive Weeks.

The Ravens never drifted from their course throughout Sunday’s late afternoon defeat of the Texans, who failed to pose any credible threat to last years top AFC seed. Bar the thanksgiving tie with Detroit, the Texans will be confined to noon kick-off’s and that decision by the broadcasters appears to have beeen a shrewd one.

Week-two resonated in a similar tone to last Thursday, with the overriding sense of distain which was symbolically presented by yet another, Will Fuller hamstring complaint. The perennially injured, muted-star receiver, didn’t register a catch and missed snaps, whilst being worked on by the trainers.

Providing this weeks deep-set despondency, was the turn of the offence, when a regression almost seemed inconceivable. Deshaun and the offence struggled to piece drives together which lead to two unthinkable play-calls form Tim Kelly. Both failed in finding a yard, the third down attempt was followed by calling a series of over-adventurous developing crossers on the resulting 4th. The play-call was changed as Baltimore shrewdly used a time out to adjust personnel. Jackson was then presented with a short-field, who eventually found his fullback in the end zone, Cunningham appeared to be the trailing defender.

The offence stumped up the only touchdown of the day, to make it a 10-7 game. After much clamour for the offence use of the play action, Watson found Cooks for a 38 yard again, prior to the 10 yard TD-pass to Darren Fells. Cooks was one a few bright spots in the Houston offence, as was the announcement of Jordan Atkins as Tight-End one, as Darren Fells saw his snaps decline but still poses value in the red-zone.

After the defence held to another Justin Tucker Field-Goal, who was 4-4 on the day, the path was laid for the offence to compliment the defence’s unexpected solidity. Though the feeling of deja-vu once again unwelcomely found itself, as Keke Coutee added to his string of high-profile fumbles, as the Ravens defence returned it for 6. After gifting two scores, the Texans were confined to another defeat in a home opener. As for Coutee, that moment drew more angst at unfulfilled potential, the former 4th round pick’s release date may hinge on the return of rookie Isaiah Coulter from a neck strain.

Often with Deshaun, hope is a constant, but even his performance just at the whole offence didn’t meet a standard worthy of winning a pro game, far less defeating the 2019 MVP. If there was any doubt, it was then sealed, as Watson delayed his release, Brandon Cooks was jumped by Marcus Peters (who the Texans overlooked in the 2016 draft, due to off field concerns) intercepting the ball to kill another Texans drive. The Texans for all their speed, failed to stretch the field and a missed shot to David Johnson up the sideline was atypical of an absent big-play ability.

Despite this, Houston only found themselves down 10 at the half. After trading field goals, on a pivotal fourth & 1, running back Mark Ingram took the direct snap to the house. The running back subsequently celebrated on the Texans logo in the same way his teammates figuratively handled a weary looking Texans team.

There were some minor positives from the defence. JJ Watt came alive, chipping in with 2 of the four sacks. Charles Omenihu and Zack Cunningham also contributed to tally, in a much improved front from last week. Cunningham again, positioned too high to make the tackle, missed two big stops on third down, when the team need a momentum swing.

The team are definitively carrying passengers on that front seven, Carlos Watkins and Whitney Mercilius continued to be limited in their effectiveness. The latter is looking like a toxic investment, versus paying DJ Reader. There were some flashes in the secondary but just as the offence did with pass protection, the run defence’s damn finally burst in the 4th quarter. Although Weaver’s game plan was again effective, considering the void of talent on the Houston defence.

The ejection of Rookie Ross Blacklock, typified the night, when called for unnecessary roughness, much to the displeasure of JJ Watt’s post match comments. Not that it contributed to the downfall, as his comments may have suggested.

At this stage of the O’Brien era, considering the autonomy given, the capital invested in the offence (at the expense of the defence), to have that output in the first two weeks, should put the Tim Kelly OC era on notice. The Texans were handed the most difficult start to the season imaginable but they have been the masters of their own downfall. Similarly, this should not be the product of a 4th year, $40m quarterback, nor should that be the level of pass protection with the CONSTANT failure to recognise hot routes.

Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina

The holes in this Texans roster have been exposed in the first two weeks by the AFC’s elite. The contrast being thag both KC & Baltimore have improved their rosters, whilst OB was allowed to regress his.

It’s perhaps a positive that only 15-thousands fans will be inside NRG stadium for the next Texans home game, for the visit of Minnesota in a fortnight. As filling the stadium based on Sunday would be a tough ask. The down-trodden Texans travel to Pittsburgh this coming week, a task which would pose another factor to only further their current plight.

FINAL – BALTIMORE 33 – HOUSTON 16.

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